I'm finally reading through my copy of Pollington's Leechcraft, which contains translations of three Old English leechdoms: the Lacnunga, the OE Herbal, and Bald's Leechdom. I picked it up more for an interest in the charms, but then in Bald, something caught my eye. One remedy called for seasoned hen, boiled with cabbage/kale, and served to the invalid with good broth. Chicken soup!
Now, there is an Anglo-Saxon cookbook out there; Duke Sir Cariadoc has written a negative review of it. One flaw among several is the author's use of leechdom cures to authenticate her dishes, when the dishes look almost nothing like the leechdom cures 'authenticating' them. I want to avoid that.
A quick tour through the Lacnunga last night turned up enough potential recipes for a meal, although not for a cookbook. Some hew closer to the original cures than others:
- Honey Butter Beets: one cure calls for beets (unclear if root, leaf, or both) "boiled" in honey and butter. Assuming this is some sort of saute, rather than literal immersion in a vat of boiling butter (frying), that's doable.
- Radish Digestif: Sliced radish sprinkled with salt, served with small amount of vinegar to sip. Original cure (for heaviness of the stomach) did not say to slice the radish, but otherwise the same.
- Blackberry Drink: "Give him crushed bramble berries [blackberries] to drink." We can do that! I'd probably thin it out with some water to make more of an agua fresca and less of a smoothie, but could do either.
- Pepper-Wine Sauce: Original is an ointment, just pepper in wine, smeared on. Pepper the wine and cook to reduce it, and you have a nice sauce for meat.
- Mashed Parsnips with Ale: Original had the (raw?) parsnip pounded and left to soak in ale or wine overnight, and then drunk by the patient. Could be a raw parsnip salad, but I think I lean towards warm mashed parsnips flavored with a bit of ale.
- Celery Egg Salad: Okay, this starts to go farther afield. The original cure was a salve: wild celery leaves, raw egg whites and vinegar, smeared on. Chopped celery leaves, chopped cooked egg whites, and a vinegar dressing sounds like a reasonable salad.
- Beet Leaf Omelette: Also farther afield. The original called for an egg-based poultice to be wrapped in beet leaves. If one used beetroot for the honey butter beets, one could put the beet greens into an egg dish (perhaps a tart?).
- Asparagus and Kale Saxondaise: This takes most of the food ingredients of a multi-step cure, which are in no way combined into a single dish but are rather 'layed on' in a particular order over several days. Asparagus and kale are dressed in a Hollandaise-like sauce of egg yolks and bacon fat, seasoned with smoked salt. (The original called for an eggshell-full of salt to the burnt, and the burnt salt used. You could try this also.). There is another cure that calls for a raw egg, soaked in vinegar for three days, to be beaten with butter, set a little over the coals (to thicken?) and then served. So the idea of an egg-thickened custard or sauce isn't impossible.
With either some roast pork or beef for the pepper-wine sauce, or else Bald's chicken soup, and also some pottage or bread, you have the makings of a nice meal here, I think. Not all at once - that's a lot of vegetable dishes.
There were a few others I'm not recalling (but that I wrote down), and there's still two leechdoms to go through.